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October 2018
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Monday, 01 October 2018 13:00

UK nuclear phaseout would be costly mistake, NNWI

UK nuclear phaseout would be costly mistake, NNWI

Electricity generating costs would rise by 15% and carbon emissions from the power sector would more than triple by 2030 if the UK were to abandon nuclear energy in favour of a mix of wind and gas, according to the New Nuclear Watch Institute (NNWI), Caspian Energy News ( reports with reference to World Nuclear News.

“Some campaigners claim that by mid-century Britain, and indeed other countries, will be able to meet all its energy needs from renewables. Pointing to delays and cost overruns experienced recently in the construction of some new nuclear plants they argue that, despite its impeccable credentials as a reliable supplier of low-carbon baseload electricity, nuclear power should be phased out along with coal”, NNWI chairman Tim Yeo says.

The NNWI report - titled The False Economy of Abandoning Nuclear Power - considers both the environmental impact and the financial costs of phasing out nuclear by 2030 and relying instead on a combination of extra renewables and gas.

The report uses two scenarios. The first is where a total phaseout of nuclear power is assumed, consisting of a cancellation of new-build projects - including Hinkley Point C - and an accelerated decommissioning of existing plants. This scenario involves greater use of wind backed up by gas. Under the second scenario, it is assumed that nuclear power is not phased out and capacity is determined "endogenously according to the least-cost optimisation procedure". This sees less wind and back-up by nuclear as well as by gas.

According to the report, such a phase out of nuclear would increase generating costs from GBP82 (USD107) per MWh to GBP95/MWh at an annual incremental system cost of GBP3.2 billion. It would also reduce the share of low-carbon generation in total generation in 2030 from 87% to 48%. This would increase the carbon intensity of the power sector from 51gCO2/KWh to 186gCO2/KWh.

The publication concludes: “This paper demonstrates that much of the perceived wisdom surrounding the energy transition deserves closer examination, founded, as much of it is, on assertions that do not stand up to analytical rigour”. The NNWI believes that energy policy should always be evidence-based and that all options must be available. These options include both gas and renewable energy and the world simply cannot afford prejudice against nuclear energy to prevent its continued use as an essential component in the response to climate change.

The UK has 15 power reactors with a combined capacity of 8883 MWe which generate about 21% of the country's electricity. However, almost half of this capacity is due to be retired by 2025.

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